Photo: Greg MacDonald

After Twain’s first, large-scale, Western ruckus, his audience began to grow, as did his reputation. By 1864 he was honing his craft by writing 4,000-word political dispatches five days a week from Carson City. So much for not liking work.

In 1865 his story “Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog,” submitted too late for inclusion in an anthology of Western writing, was instead published in New York’s Saturday Press. It exploded. Within in no time the tale of the jumping frog with the belly full of lead had appeared in newspapers across the U.S. and Europe.

He had stepped onto the world stage.

As we stepped out into the morning at Trumbull Lake, the sun cracked across 12,280 ft. Dunderberg Peak, a wall of loose rock, towering a good 3,000 ft. above our campsite. We’d completely missed seeing it in the dark the night before.

Prior to 1878 this pile of 100-million-year-old granite was known as Castle Peak. Here’s how Twain described it:

At the end of a week we adjourned to the Sierras on a fishing excursion, and spent several days in camp under snowy Castle Peak, and fished successfully for trout in a bright, miniature lake whose surface was between ten and eleven thousand feet above the level of the sea; cooling ourselves during the hot August noons by sitting on snow banks ten feet deep, under whose sheltering edges fine grass and dainty flowers flourished luxuriously; and at night entertaining ourselves by almost freezing to death.

Mark Twain, Roughing It, Chapter 39

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